TOURING THE CATAWBA COUNTY FIREFIGHTER'S MUSEUM

As you enter the building, in the foyer and halls, you will notice a number of recognition plaques and fire service photos. These photos represent present day as well as historical records of the fire service in Catawba County. There are also displays that honor deceased firefighters from various departments.

LobbyAt present, we have six fire trucks on display. The oldest is a 1936 American LaFrance fire engine from the Hickory Fire Department. Also on display is a 1941 Ford pumper that was used at the Newton Fire Department in the mid fifties and later moved to the newly formed Cooksville Fire Department in 1967. There is a 1952 Ford pumper, used by the Viewmont Volunteer Fire Department, which remained in active service until the mid 1980's. Also on display is a1951 Dodge pumper with a 500 gpm American LaFrance pump purchased by the Long View Fire Department in 1953, a 1954 Chevrolet pumper, belonging to the Catawba Fire Department, and a 1945 Chevrolet pumper from the Maiden Fire Department. This unit was refurbished in the early 1980's and was used in parades and displays up until the time it was placed in the museum in 1995.

Among the many items on display throughout the museum are collections of communication equipment, including monitors, truck radios, walkie-talkies, pagers and sirens.

Plaques and photosThere is also a municipal alarm system from the City Of Hickory, installed originally in 1906, to alert their stations of fires. The fire alarm boxes were located throughout the city. When someone would activate one of these boxes, a signal would be sent back to the central fire station, where it would sound an alarm bell within the station, as well as print a punch tape of the box number.

Also displayed is a collection of red warning lights and sirens, some dating back into the early 50's. The use of red lights and sirens are visual and audible notice to the public that these vehicles are responding to an emergency and requesting citizens to yield right of way.

You will see a rescue life net that was carried on one of the ladder trucks in the Hickory Fire Department in the 20's through the 60's, as well as the original slide pole used in the old Hickory Headquarters Station in the early 1900's.

On display is a variety of firefighting uniforms, often referred to as turnout gear. The earliest of this protective clothing displayed is a rubber raincoat type suit with a rubber hat. The era during which this was probably used was early 1900's to 1930's. You will also see a collection of fire helmets, dating back to the early 50's.

Another display shows a variety of breathing equipment, some dating back into the 30's. Included is an old re-breather chemical mask, a hand crank air pump, a canister filter unit, and other brands of air units.

You will see a variety of ladders used over the years in the fire service. The oldest ladders you see are called pompier ladders. Pompier ladders are single beam ladders with rungs on both sides. These ladders were used in the 20's, 30's, and 40's.

Behind the trucks is a toy pedal fire truck from the 50's. These metal riding toy trucks are collector's items.

There are examples of foam generators and nozzles used to create foam, various industrial type fire extinguisher cart units and a large collection of portable fire extinguishers.

ClassroomThere are even several types of fire buckets from the days of the bucket brigade.

In the classroom area we have a number of scrapbooks and pictures. We can seat about 45 people in this area and use it to promote fire safety to visiting groups by means of lecture and videotapes. Also in the classroom is a display of heat detectors and smoke detectors.

You will notice the engraved rocks on the outside of the building, which display the names or emblems of the fire departments in Catawba County. There are rocks from every fire district in Catawba County placed in the exterior walls of this building.

We also have a picnic shelter on the grounds for groups that visit the museum to use.

Firefighter's Memorial Coming in 2004Plans are also in the works for a Firefighter Memorial to be placed on the grounds, to be dedicated in May of 2004.

We hope you will come by to visit and find our museum to be an interesting and educational opportunity for you and your family.

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Catawba County Fire/Rescue Division